Is global warming on your mind? Would you like to spend less money on gasoline? Go green with your car by following these tips to minimize your car use and save fuel.
Find one or more carpool partners for a daily commute, and take turns driving. If you think it's a hassle to pick up and drop off other people, consider that there will be days when someone else is driving and you can just sit back, relax, and chat—or snooze! There's less wear and tear on you and your car, and less fuel used overall.
To find a partner, post a notice at your place of work. If you get no response, try posting a notice at other businesses nearby, or at your local supermarket.
Take Public Transportation
If you are lucky enough to have public transportation available, take advantage of it as much as you can. You may find that you can even do without a car.
If the bus schedule is spotty, or there is no public transportation in your neck of the woods, you may want to raise the issue with your state representatives. After all, it's your tax dollars that make public transportation possible. The more people request it and use it, the better it will be.
When traveling a long distance, consider taking a bus or train, instead of flying.
Work from Home
So many jobs are computer-based these days; telecommuting has become a no-brainer. If you can do your job from home, arrange with your boss to do so at least one day per week. Many companies are beginning to recognize the value of this arrangement. Workers typically get a lot more done on their days at home, since interruptions are minimized. They also start work right on time, and they don't have to quit early to get home in time for the kids.
Walk or Cycle
Your own two feet or a bicycle are options for distances under three miles. The benefits are multiple: no emissions whatsoever, no traffic jams to deal with, and no parking worries—as well as a healthier you! Be sure to follow bicycle safety rules.
Motorcycles, electric bikes, and scooters can carry you longer distances, using fewer resources than your car.
By shopping close to home, your car trips will be shorter, so you'll use less gas and save time. You may even be able to get to some stores on foot or by public transportation. Consider shopping at a nearby farmer's market and at stores that use local suppliers. That way you'll be supporting your local economy and reducing the number of heavy trucks traveling long distances.
Start a "Walking School Bus"
If your children's school is within walking distance of your home, here's a fun, safe, and active way for kids of all ages to travel to and from school. The idea is for one or more adults to accompany children as they walk along a set route. Kids are "picked up" at designated stops and dropped off at their stops in the afternoon. This win-win solution reduces traffic on the road, gives everyone healthful exercise, lets kids have fun with their friends, and teaches them safety and independence. When the weather is bad, a carpool can temporarily fill in, following the same route.
It's best to get the support of your school before starting a walking school bus. The principal, a member of the school board, or an enthusiastic teacher might help to spread the word. You could also put a message in a school newsletter, or present the idea at the next parent-teacher conference. And it's a good idea to have the local police or a road safety coordinator review the proposed route to make sure it's safe.
Live Closer to Your Destinations
When looking for a new house, explore neighborhoods that are near your workplace, have public transportation, and offer easy access to the places you visit most often. A shorter commute can save you hundreds of miles—and hours—over the course of a year. Living close to your destinations also makes it much easier for your family to downsize to one car, reducing a big chunk of household expenses.
Get the Most Out of Your Gas
When you must use your car, follow these guidelines to conserve gas:
Service your car regularly.
Keep your tires properly inflated.
Don't let the car idle for more than 30 seconds.
Accelerate gradually and stick to the speed limit.
Use cruise control for highway driving, whenever possible.
Turn off the air conditioner or dehumidifier when it's no longer needed.
Reduce your load—empty your trunk of all unnecessary items.
Remove a roof rack when it's not in use.
When buying a new car, choose a more efficient model, or consider buying a hybrid car.
Don't buy fuel with a higher octane than your car's manufacturer recommends—it won't make your car run faster or better; it will just cost you more money!